Aleesha Callahan March 24 2017

The life of contemporary women is complex, multifaceted, sometimes challenging, sometimes overwhelming yet also brimming with opportunity. We ask some of our most treasured Chorus clients to share insights into how they juggle professional and personal life.

This month we visit our friend, the very talented Aleesha Callahan at her home in Brunswick, Melbourne. Aleesha is the online editor of Australian Design Review and the newly appointed editor of Mezzanine Magazine, a different kind of design publication that showcases the talent of Australian design, bridging the gap between the industry and the design curious.

What is important to you when you dress each morning? And what inspires this?
I always check the weather first thing in the morning because I hate being dressed inappropriately and Melbourne can be so unpredictable! I wish I could say I’m the type of person who has the next day’s outfit all planned and perfectly laid out the night before, but that’s just not me. Generally, it’s a case of thinking about what I have on that day – am I interviewing or meeting with someone, or do I have an event after work – it’s these things that inform what I choose to wear. And whether it’s clean! There are definitely certain pieces I always go to because they’re comfortable and when I put them on it’s an instant confidence boost.

The key things I always aim for are – will I be comfortable and will I feel confident?

I also have another little habit that will make me sound like a bit of a nerd, but if I’m really struggling to find something to wear, I’ll scroll through a folder of outfit screenshots and images on my phone. I think it’s easy to be overwhelmed or distracted by the bombardment of media around us these days, so this collection is like my own curated personal-style reference. It’s simply things I know that will suit my shape and make me feel good because sometimes riffling through my drawers/rack is not enough to pull an outfit together.  

How have you collected the garments in your wardrobe?
I know it’s really cliché, but as I’ve gotten older I’m much more confident in my own style. I used to pretty much just follow trends and was less concerned about quality. But over the years, it’s the well-made and classic designs that have stood the test of time. I think I’m a bit of a bower bird, I don’t stick to just one brand, my wardrobe is an amalgamation from all different sources – a lot of vintage, simple basics (polos/jeans) from high street brands and I like to invest in the statement pieces.

Where is your working space and how do you feel this affects your work?
I work in an office building with windows that can’t be opened, luckily we have lots of natural light and we recently acquired a bunch of indoor plants. If I’m working at home, it’s a different story though, I will always open up the doors and let lots of light and air in.

There’s a lot of evidence out there about the power of natural materials. This biophilic design methodology is huge right now and it essentially shows the impact of surrounding yourself with fresh air, the sounds of nature, natural light and greenery.

I was interviewing a British architect last week that is an expert in cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction. He said some really interesting things about how the concept of biophlia has already permeated lots of other disciplines, but it has taken architecture a while to catch up. For example, the raw food movement (and eating non-processed foods) and how in fashion people are often more comfortable wearing natural materials like wool, cotton and silk, they bring built-in breathable qualities and feel great on the skin.

What part of your day/ week do you most cherish and why?
There’s a magical time (nearly) every Saturday or Sunday morning, when I get up after a sleep in, make a coffee and sit in my favourite antique armchair with the sun streaming through the living room, and catch up on reading my pile of magazines. I’m sure to anyone with kids this ritual sounds super luxurious and I know it is, but it’s definitely the most relaxing time I have all week. Besides, it’s useful research for work, right? 

How does your background in Design and your Editors eye effect the way you choose your clothing?
The design and architecture world is incredibly creative, which comes out through fashion as well – as a general rule, there are lashings of black, unusual shapes and bold statements – I find it very inspiring. There’s always fantastic people watching at a design event.

For me, it’s nice to have the freedom to use clothing as an extension of my personality. When I lived in London I worked in a corporate office with a strict corporate dress code, I felt like part of my creativity was dampened (not to mention the dreary weather, of course). So that’s definitely something I don’t take for granted anymore.

I am getting better at editing my clothes, I think there’s something to be said for keeping a well-edited wardrobe, but I still hold onto things for pure sentimental value even though I never wear them anymore.

Do you see parallels between fashion design and the architecture and interior design worlds?
There are a multitude of things that cross-over, the minimalist trend is an obvious one and I think that boils down to it being a complete lifestyle choice – so from your interior belongings to your wardrobe.

Another parallel that I find particularly interesting (and a topic I wrote my interior design thesis around) is the notion of authenticity. In both fashion and interiors, it’s always the spaces and outfits that have been organically pulled together through a genuine and innate sense of style that feel so ‘real’. It’s really hard to fake and to replicate. When I experience a space that has that kind of magic it’s just mesmerising. Similarly when I see someone who is just so thoughtfully put together.

I’d have to say that the most important parallel is in sustainability. It feels like there’s a general awakening to what we as humans are doing to the planet. Whether it is because of this or simply that I’m more drawn to reading and educating myself about it. But both the construction industry and the fashion industries can play a major role in a creating more sustainable future. 

What is the biggest insight you can offer other women?
Don’t let people put you in a box. I’ve been told I’m a creative person my entire life, but it turns out I’m more than just ‘creative’, I can also be analytical and numbers focused. More recently I’ve discovered a huge passion for science and it feels like it came out of nowhere. I’m sure from a design, art and architecture point of view, science seems pretty far removed, but actually it folds into technology, which links up with human behaviour. It’s all interwoven, just like our lives and our identities.

You can be more than the demographic categories you fall into.

Aleesha wears pieces from our current Edition with her own jeans and accessories. Images by Sarah Pannell. The current Edition is available to order online or those in Melbourne can visit Milly Sleeping in Carlton to try on samples until Wednesday 5th April.